Oscars 2023, Thoughts

The Oscars 2023: Post-Show Reaction

That video above is why I like award shows. It’s why even when I hear every take that makes the argument that awards don’t matter, I come back to the same answer, they can. Look, I’m a person that believes in hope and that dreams are worth living for, so these speeches are speaking directly to my bias but damn it, it’s what makes life worth living!

Alright alright, the watery eyes have dried, back to the awards. This year’s Academy Awards were mostly devoid of any surprises. Going into the show after having watched most of the best picture winners (sorry Women Talking) and following a few of the critic circles I had a good idea of where things would go even with the many shorts that I didn’t get an opportunity to watch. Personally, the movie I fell in love with early last year by this point was still my favorite to want to win. It did. Everything Everywhere All at Once is such a special movie not just because of its unique ideas but just because it nails human moments so well. The importance of moms, the different ways one can show strength, acceptance of who we are, ah! This movie, I swear it gets me revved up every time I start to really dig into it. In the end, Everything Everywhere took home the following awards:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director(s)
  • Best Editing
  • Best Original Screenplay
  • Best Actress
  • Best Supporting Actor
  • Best Supporting Actress

It deserved every one of those awards and it put a smile on my face to see it. The other big winner of the night was All Quiet on the Western Front. It came away with four awards, three that felt like locks (Best International Film, Best Cinematography, Best Score) and one win that felt like a surprise (Best Production Design). I can’t disagree with any of those wins, well deserved, even if in the realm of recent WWI movies, I still think 1917 is superior. As the night progressed the Best Makeup and Hairstyling win for the Whale made it clear to me that there would be no dark horse for Best Actor. Sure enough, Brendan Fraser took home the statue, and like so many of the winners of the night it felt right. So many first-time wins and it was beautiful to see them all processing the moment of such recognition.

Production-wise for the show at large, this year did a great job of not having overly long bits that no one wants to see, and every award was presented at the show. I know that’s a low bar but for years the Academy has made one baffling decision after another that defeated the point of an awards ceremony. Still, there was still some banter between award presenters that I really don’t think is necessary. Give a little anecdote and get to the award. Let the winners speak. Find as many ways as possible to let them have their moment. There were many times people got cut off by music, but it sure did happen when a group won an award. Jimmy Kimmel did a solid job hosting too, most of the bits worked, and yeah that includes the jabs at the insanity that is the politics of the United States. While all of this worked, I still can’t wait for the day that some streaming option is available. I don’t miss old broadcast TV and its endless barrage of commercials. It is draining and feels like a relic of the past that does drag down shows like these.

All in all, the 95th Academy Awards was a fun watch as far as this movie fan is concerned. Here’s hoping for another fun year of movies!

Oscars 2023, Reviews

Oscars Watch 2023: All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet ironically has the best score my ears listened to from all 2022 releases.

Score: 4/5

Netflix is back in awards contention for Best Picture with All Quiet on the Western Front, an adaptation of a powerful novel depicting the horrors of World War I through the perspective of a young German soldier. I remember reading the book in high school, it was a tragic story that grew bleaker as I experienced the transformation of main character Paul (played by Felix Kammerer) from a patriotic youth looking to prove something to a broken man who has no choice but to keep fighting a war he no longer agrees with. It’s a rough read, this film adaptation carries much of that throughout the film, but maybe not as successfully.

In an age where prestige television can rival and even surpass that of a film in terms of production quality some stories make more sense for a two-to-three-hour runtime, some deserve more. This is one of those stories that feels like it needs more time. Director Edward Berger succeeds in showing the senselessness, and the unraveling of Paul as the war continues, yet I felt like even for a movie that is paced on the slower side, I wanted more time to experience the transition of patriotic hopeful to empty disillusioned soldier. The movie pulls away from Paul every so often to give the perspective of two ends of the German leadership, one that wants the war to end and the other that wants to fight to the end. This is necessary yet pulls away from spending more time with Paul and his friends.

Stepping away from that, there were several things that I really liked with this movie. The first being the score by Volker Bertelmann. The theme of this movie stuck in my head and wouldn’t leave. It’s one of those scores that after watching the movie I can listen to and instantly get pulled back into scenes from the movie. I can’t speak enough about it. Pairing with the score, is the beautifully shot cinematography by James Friend. There were numerous moments that I could pause the screen and that would be a perfect poster or painting that captures the movie in all its essence. The last major achievement that wowed me was the makeup. Poor Paul was covered in blood and dirt so often in the movie. That was a monumental task the crew did a really great job. It wouldn’t shock me if this movie won in all these categories because they are that good.

While I feel this could have been an even better mini-series, this movie is still an excellent adaptation that doesn’t shy away from the realities of war. The score, cinematography, and makeup elevate this movie to more than just another war movie in a long line of them. It will be very interesting to see what awards this nominee will pick up on Oscar night.

Oscars 2023

Oscars Watch 2023

Last week the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the nominations for the 95th Academy Awards (aka The Oscars). This isn’t going to be a post about who I think will win or what I would pick, and that’s because I haven’t seen all the movies up for awards. So, from now until March 12th, I’m going to make it a mission of mine to see as many of these movies as possible between new releases that catch my eye. I’ll tag these movies with “Oscars Watch 2023.” What do I have on my list you ask? Well, here it is:

That is a long list. At the top of my list are the best picture nominations and then from there are nominations for specific big categories that I’d like to have a little more knowledge of more of the nominees. I’m not sure if I’ll get to them all, and I have a snubbed movie that many have called out as a must-watch (Decision to Leave) that will likely take up some time too, but hey, this is going to be a fun ride! Look forward to more reviews and to my thoughts on what I’d like to win on the big night and what is likely going to win.

Oscars 2023, Reviews

Oscars Watch 2023: Elvis Review

Tom Hanks’s Colonel turns a great movie into a good one, which is a real shame.

Score: 3/5

Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis has the director’s unique style plastered all over the retelling of Elvis Presley’s life, for better and worse. The King of Rock and Roll’s career is a powerful and sad story all at once, but Luhrmann’s tendencies don’t necessarily make for the best film. For every interesting shot, there is a bizarre choice like adding modern music spliced with Elvis’s music as an example. Hearing a song from Doja Cat in a movie about Elvis is just odd and pulls me out of the experience every time. A bigger issue though that really hampers this movie is the story decision to frame this story around the narration and takes of Elvis’s business manager, Colonel Tom Parker played by Tom Hanks.

You see, on top of Hanks’ over-the-top performance feeling out of place with everyone else in the movie, Colonel Tom Parker is the villain of the film. Not an oh-you-like-this-guy type of villain. No, this is guy you just don’t want to be around. Except the writer’s decided that the best way to move through the events of Mr. Presley’s life was through the guise of a scummy con man that would fit more in the SNL sketch of this movie than the actual film itself. Like the music choices I mentioned earlier, it’s perplexing. The movie makes no secrets that this character isn’t one to root for, which is fine, but why have him be the glue of the story of Elvis? Why gloss over moments and other aspects of the central character for someone that is very one note? He wants money, he wants to use people to get money, and that is all there is to it. These questions only become more glaring as you watch the movie since Austin Butler delivers an award worthy performance of Elvis.

This movie would not be in contention for best picture without Butler’s performance. He’s excellent as Elvis and adds additional depth to the character where the script decided to focus more on the Colonel. Butler is electric and commands the screen in every scene. You can see that addiction to both the love of the crowd and the drugs in his eyes. There’s that pain that the movie doesn’t spend nearly enough time exploring that he makes clear in just looks. It’s always key to getting the casting right, and everyone else outside of Hank’s Colonel meshes well with Butler’s Elvis. They feed off each other and make for compelling moments, and fun concert scenes. Why it was decided to not let Elvis be the teller of his own story will always confuse me.

There is a better movie within the parts of Elvis, a movie that could have been close to a no brainer for winning the Best Picture. Instead, odd choices in the plot, production, and a wacky performance from Tom Hanks keeps this movie from being a great one.